Myth: When we hear words like “domestic violence,” “physical abuse,” “abusive relationship,” or “perpetrator,” we tend to think of men as the aggressor and of women as the victims simply because of how big and strong men are compared to women. It seems almost impossible that a woman could bully a man or force herself upon him in an intimate nature. We tend to think that if a man is crying “abuse,” he must have started it, deserved it, or that he must be flat-out lying. Is it true that women can’t be abusers?
Fact: Women can be, and are, abusive. Although our typical view of abuse is of a large man physically assaulting a small woman, that is not always the case. Sometimes a woman is physically larger than, or stronger than, her male (or female) partner. Women are most frequently in charge of small children and, unfortunately, much abuse is suffered by children at the hands of women.
Additionally, men have been trained in our society to believe that it is not appropriate to hit a girl. Women have not necessarily been given that same training about the inappropriateness of hitting boys. Therefore, in an extreme conflict, a woman may be even more inclined to slap, push, or throw something at a man, than the man would be to do the same to her. Further, women know that men are most likely to be suspected of abuse if police are involved and may be bolder about their physical attacks on their partners than a male who may be more afraid of being arrested and charged with assault. Additionally, society looks down upon a man who beats up on women. When women are charged with assault on men, society often jumps to the conclusion that he must have been doing something to deserve the beating. Thus, men may be more hesitant to engage in physical altercations than their female counterparts when tempers are flaring.
Finally, much abuse is emotional and leaves no scars or physical evidence and frankly, women are experts in this arena. Women are capable of doing some of the most hideous psychological abuse and often get away with it because it’s not even illegal. In fact, a woman can psychologically abuse a man for years, get away with it, and still have him arrested when he finally loses his mind and hits her. Of course, we are not condoning those actions, he should have left the abusive relationship long ago, but abusive relationships can be incredibly hard to leave.
Certainly, not all women are monsters, and not all men accused of abuse can blame a woman, but it is very true that women can be just as abusive as men, and possibly even more so.